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Author Topic: Mic configuration for Jazz Quartet  (Read 963 times)

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Offline ricola

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Mic configuration for Jazz Quartet
« on: July 15, 2016, 07:49:26 AM »
I tape regulary in a small Jazzclub mostly acoustic music like Jazz Trio, Quartet or Quintet.
For the most situations a Main Mic figuration such as M/S or ORTF is perfect for the room sound and to catch enough musical details of the Band.
But sometimes especially the piano is too quiet in the mix and the drums is way too loud.
So what can I change in mic configuration for a better and more direct piano sound??
A additional single spot mic near the piano(cards or hypercards)?? But for this way I don’t know how to mix it later together with the Stereo file of the main mix in the Stereo Panorama??
Or should I use another Stereo configuration with direction to sweet spot of the Piano…for example an extra X/Y cardioid Stereo-Pair? Later I could add this in the whole Mix for a better and more direct piano sound??

Any suggestions? Your help and experience are much appreciated, thanks!!

Offline noahbickart

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Re: Mic configuration for Jazz Quartet
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2016, 08:39:46 AM »
Move the array closer to the piano.

Also, sometimes dynamic range compression can be applied in post to "raise" the level of softer sounds.
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Offline goodcooker

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Re: Mic configuration for Jazz Quartet
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2016, 09:21:14 AM »

I had good success in this scenario by adding a dynamic mic wrapped in a bar towel inside the piano (lid closed) to the mix. Very unorthodox but it worked great.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Mic configuration for Jazz Quartet
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2016, 01:05:49 PM »
Move the array closer to the piano.

Also, sometimes dynamic range compression can be applied in post to "raise" the level of softer sounds.

Both of these things first.  Spot mic or pair on the piano if you need to go further.

I find piano one of the more difficult instruments in a live jazz ensemble to deal with, although bass can sometimes be problematic as well if for different reasons.  A standard (non-upright) piano primarily radiates bidirectionally upwards and downwards, so most of it's sound which reaches a stereo pair of mics intended for recording the entire ensemble will be indirect and reflected.   When setting up, it may help to think of doing so primarily as a piano recording, which will also pickup the other players.  In short, get closer to the piano as Noah suggests.

Dynamic compression helps at both ends of the spectrum.  It can soften over impactful drum hits and cymbal crashes on the loud side, and bring up lost details at the quiet side.  Best to use two different compression applications to target each aspect individually.  Parallel compression is a great way to bring up the details somewhat more than you might be able to do otherwise without introducing negative sonic consequences.
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Offline ricola

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Re: Mic configuration for Jazz Quartet
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2016, 03:39:29 PM »
"....Best to use two different compression applications to target each aspect individually. "

This sounds interesting Gutbucket!! I have some good compression plugins in  my basket, but often I don`t exactly how to use theme for such special corrections.
Do you have any suggestions...maybe M/S mode or Dual Mono Mode...or MultiCompression (for example I have the FabFilter MB).
Any help are much appreciated!




Offline Ronmac

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Re: Mic configuration for Jazz Quartet
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2016, 12:01:40 PM »
The absolute best method is to monitor the live recording and place mics in the best location for a balanced sound.  That isn't always practical during a live show....

Small rooms can have nodes of low frequency standing waves that exceed 20dB, making any of the lower register instruments (kick drum, bass, lower octaves of the piano) really dominate or disappear. If you can avoid those you are in a much better position to get a "balanced" recording.


http://www.marktaw.com/recording/Acoustics/RoomModeStandingWaveCalcu.html


Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Mic configuration for Jazz Quartet
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2016, 12:38:27 PM »
^ Truth.

"....Best to use two different compression applications to target each aspect individually. "

This sounds interesting Gutbucket!! I have some good compression plugins in  my basket, but often I don`t exactly how to use theme for such special corrections.
Do you have any suggestions...maybe M/S mode or Dual Mono Mode...or MultiCompression (for example I have the FabFilter MB).
Any help are much appreciated!

Two separate compressors.  One tuned for bringing the over-quiet detail stuff at the bottom up in level, the other tuned for keeping the over-loud peaks and such under control.  Checkout the threads on parallel compression for details on the bottom-up approach.

M/S mode compresses the center of the image differently than the outer edges of the image, instead of the Left channel separately from the Right channel.  I'd not worry about that in this case.  Dual mono unlinks left and right channels instead of having them act simultaneously in an identical way.  I usually find that to be an advantage, but as always it depends on the recording and YMMV.  Multiband can work well, but is easy to over do.  Regular compression when set correctly does the job pretty well.  The trick is using a separate instance to targeting each dynamic problem specifically, and using a light handed approach, rather than trying to do too much with a single compressor.
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Offline bombdiggity

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Re: Mic configuration for Jazz Quartet
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2016, 01:11:54 PM »
As GB says piano is always a challenge, with bass next...  The drums always rule the room (exceptionally sensitive drummers balance themselves effectively but when they hit points of emphasis the drums will always be the loudest thing you record), though horns can also approach drum levels (if there's a horn section that together typically becomes the loudest part of the ensemble). 

Setting up close to the piano may work if it doesn't distort the perspective/phase relationships.  I sort of think that would only work if the piano is center stage (which seems rare in clubs). 

A spot mic leads to mixing in post but absent a PA mic on the piano and an amp for the bass that is often the only way you would get effective ambient balance. 

As an example the Tyrone Allen piece on my page here: https://soundcloud.com/sounds-from-dc was a completely ambient recording of a quartet (though an atypical quartet since he chose not to have a drummer, perhaps in part due to the acoustics of the room).  The mic location can be seen in the thumbnail photo.  There were no PA, no microphones and no amps (so the bass is just natural sound off the instrument).  They had excellent control of dynamics but the saxes are of course much louder than the piano and bass.  He's a fairly forceful player so the bass was still a bit louder than the piano (for proximity I hoped to stay close to the bass thinking it would be light, so that is also a factor).  I would not have wanted to shoot from the side of the stage across the piano to try to get more since that would not have worked for the spatial representation nor with the directionality of the other instruments. 
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Video: Varied, with various outboard mics depending on the situation

 

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